— Ruling party takes exception to NEC’s ruling that he be allowed to contest on the coalition ticket in Maryland’s County
The Nation Election Commissions has ruled that the Coalition of Democratic Change violated the rights of Senator Dan Morais of Maryland County when they denied him the exclusive rights as an incumbent senator to contest the pending December 8 senatorial by-elections.
Sen. Morais’ victory came following a ruling from NEC that called on the ruling tripartite coalition to go back to its status quo and implement its own rules established in 2017, particularly Article 7.
Article 7(g) of CDC’s framework document states: “That parties of the Coalition which have seats in the Legislature shall reserve the right of nomination to the seat. And in constituencies where there is no candidate for Coalition members, the candidates that provide the best option for victory shall be considered as the coalition’s nominees.”
It is based on the this clause of the CDC’s framework that NEC rules that Sen. Morais and all other incumbent Lawmakers who desire to contest an impending election have automatic right to become candidates for the ensuing election.
“In reference to the facts derived from the framework that brought together the National Patriotic Party, the Liberia People Democratic Party and the Congress for Democratic Change into the now ruling Coalition of Democratic Change, Sen. Morais and all other incumbent Lawmakers who desire to contest an impending election have automatic right to become candidates for the ensuing election,” said Barsee Kpankpa in a ruling on behalf of NEC Board of Commissioners.
Kpanka, who is a member of the NEC Board of Commissioners, reminded the Coalition (predominantly led by the Congress for Democratic Change) that it agreed that once an incumbent Lawmaker is not in conflict with his or her constituent political party, he or she stands the chance of becoming a possible candidate for the Coalition.
Kpanka, also relying on the CDC’s framework, noted that the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) became qualified without any opposition from both the LPDP and the NPP to produce a candidate in 2017 for Montserrado Senatorial By-Election because, Geraldine Doe-Sheriff, who died after a period of protracted illness, was elected on the party ticket.
It can be recalled that in July, Sen. Morais petitioned NEC to call the Coalition to book for forcing him to contest a primary in order to run on the party’s ticket in the pending senatorial by-elections.
Sen. Morais, in his petition to NEC, argued that the current framework gives the right to the individual political parties in the coalition to decide who becomes their candidate, more so when there is already an incumbent with whom they can work.
“For these two by-elections, it was decided by the respondent Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) that for the Senate seat in Montserrado County, the Congress for Democratic Change of President Weah, should nominate a candidate because the seat was once occupied by his party,” he said in his petition addressed to the NEC in July.
Similarly, such a situation occurred recently when Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor and her boss, President George Weah disagreed with each other on who should contest on the coalition ticket in Bong County.
VP Taylor, who herself was a Senator of the before ascending to the post of VP, is in disagreement with Senator Henry Yallah who crossed over to the CDC and begged to be considered as the Coalition’s candidate for Bong County in the upcoming senatorial mid-term elections.
VP Taylor has argued that she cannot support Senator Yallah because the Bong County slot belongs to her party, the NPP; therefore, the coalition erred by conducting primary there without the NPP’s consent.
Meanwhile, the coalition has taken an exception to the NEC’s ruling and has promised to file an appeal to the Supreme Court for further and better interpretation of the CDC’s framework.
Before taking exception to the NEC ruling, the coalition argued that the framework governing the party has not been violated, but was revised to encourage open competition for all political parties of the Coalition.
“The process was reviewed instead of allowing political parties to have domineering influence. It baffles me when I hear that the framework is being violated. We are ensuring a very democratic process that gives the right to the people to decide who their leaders are,” said a ranking official of the coalition in July.
Until the Supreme Court decides, should the coalition’s appeal reach the full bench, it is not clear whether or not Senator Morais will contest on the Coalition’s ticket, knowing already that James Biney, the embattled former chairman of the NPP has been nominated through a primary to contest for the same seat on the coalition ticket.
Outside of the framework, the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), has endorsed the candidacy of Nimba District #1 Representative, Jeremiah Koung, to contest for the Senate in Nimba.
Rep. Koung is an executive member of the Movement for Democracy and Reconciliation (MDR) of former warlord and Nimba County Senator, Prince Y. Johnson.
Senator Johnson, an influential son of Nimba, who has played a pivotal role in determining who became President in the last two presidential elections, is a collaborating party of the CDC and has a share of the power deal.